It might seem too hot to be running, but early Saturday mornings for the past two weeks anywhere from a dozen to three dozen local runners have been gathering for the Methow Valley’s latest community event: the Winthrop Parkrun.
Parkrun is a “global phenomenon,” says parkrunner and valley resident Andy Roth, “offering the opportunity for people to get out and walk, jog, run or race a 5-kilometer course, at no charge.”
Parkrun started in the UK, Andy told me, and expanded to many other countries, including the 50-plus weekly parkruns in the U.S., four of which are in Washington state, and one of which happens right here in Winthrop. The underlying hope of the parkrun is that “getting people together to walk or run builds community and offers opportunities for volunteerism.”
Andy, a distance runner and occasional cross-country and track team coaching assistant, let me know that the local parkrun was started by Kersten Pepper, who works at Winthrop Physical Therapy & Fitness. Kersten founded the Redmond Parkrun three years ago and for the inaugural Winthrop Parkrun on July 23 some of her running friends from the Redmond group got up at 2:30 a.m. to drive over to the valley to support the launch of the newest group. That first local parkrun hosted a field of 28 entrants of a variety of ages.
The second Winthrop Parkrun saw lower participation, probably due to the heat, but one illustrious participant was Sergey Aleshin from Ukraine. Sergey has traveled the world visiting as many parkruns as he can and is just two parkruns away from reaching a 250-parkrun milestone. Another notable participant was the Winthrop Parkrun’s first “barkrunner,” Freya, who ran on leash (because she is a dog, in case that isn’t clear).
The Winthrop Parkrun course utilizes the new trail around the Methow Trails campus at 21 Horizon Flat Road and will be held every Saturday at 8 a.m. from May through September and at 9 a.m. every Saturday from October through April. It’s free, fun and friendly, with Winthrop Parkrun organizers inviting community members to “walk, jog, run, volunteer or spectate” — lots of ways to get involved, even if you aren’t a runner.
Andy adds, “I’m so excited about the opportunity to race locally more often. Parkrun is a super cool concept. Having our own series here in the valley is a great development. Come check it out!”
For more information about the Winthrop Parkrun visit www.parkrun.us/winthroptrailhead/.